OPINION

Hove Library could open in museum building as early as 2017

Posted On 16 Oct 2015 at 2:39 am

I wrote last week about the very difficult choices that the council is being forced to take because of the removal of government funding for local council services, around a third of our budget.

One of the most high profile of these choices so far is the proposal to move Hove library to Hove museum from its current home in the Carnegie building in Church Road.

The building is listed but is very costly to run in terms of repairs, maintenance and staffing.

We simply can’t afford to keep the library going in its current form.

Most users live on the other side of Sackville Road so it makes sense to move the service closer to them and make full use of the museum, its grounds and café in new Church Road.

It will need to be extended but in the long term the costs will be much lower.

Councillor Warren Morgan

Councillor Warren Morgan


Combined, the joining of Hove library and museum in one location will ensure that both services are retained for the future.

The Carnegie building is listed and will be preserved not lost, but will need a new use.

Despite today’s online, e-reader, books on demand world, libraries are much valued places in the hearts of our communities.

In an ideal world we would be building more but the reality is that we can’t afford to run all of the ones we have.

Hove Library

Hove Library

Two years ago our mobile library service was shut down and the opening hours of our other branch libraries in communities and neighbourhoods have been much reduced.

Our plan is to expand our “Libraries Extra” scheme so that, using new technology, library users can have full seven-day a week access to their local branch, with help on-call and full security for peace of mind.

Total library opening hours would almost double with a mix of staffed and unstaffed days.

Unlike many cities we have a number of modern libraries built in the past dozen years – in Coldean, Woodingdean and Whitehawk and, of course, the award-winning Jubilee Library opened a decade ago this year.

Our libraries will, even more than they are now, become neighbourhood hubs where a whole range of services, information and help are provided, with the space available for community use.

The proposals for changes to library services will go out for public consultation in November, following the Economic Development and Culture Committee, with final decisions taking place in March of next year.

It’s hoped that the new combined library and museum would open in 2017.

The world has changed since Carnegie’s time, since the days of philanthropic beneficence and municipal pride.

Today we should be focusing on services, not buildings, on making a difference to people’s lives through culture and learning, not preserving symbols of civic importance.

We need a library service, not a collection of ageing buildings we can’t maintain, to ensure that libraries are as valued by future generations as they have are by ours.

Warren Morgan is the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Gerald Wiley Reply

    I’m sorry but Christopher Hawtree and his friends at ‘Save Hove Library’ will never accept this.

    They seem focussed on spreading misinformation about the potential impact on library services and can’t accept that combining the Museum (less than 400 yds away) with the Library could actually improve library services (such as providing free internet services).

    They seem to be stoically focussed on making it seem that the entire library (building AND services) is being closed. The quite openly scaremonger about the potential impact and imply, as an example, that free internet access ill be going away, when all users will need to do is walk those 400 yds.

    The online petition, instigated Phelim Mac Cafferty, makes this claim as well. I just wonder why Phelim, as leader of the Green Party on the council, actually realises what the petition states, and why such a person so highly positioned in the council, has to resort to such actions?

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Your post should be removed Mr. Wiley as it is toxic black propaganda spreading misinformation.

    Free internet service at Hove Library has been in place since about 2003, thank you very much. The way your post reads it looks like something new to be offered at the Museum! What a blinking NERVE!

    The Museum rooms are small and poky and if you add book stacks to the walls, would be unable to support many humans passing by them. The building is, after all, a converted HOUSE.

    As a disabled person using a wheeled walking aid, I find Hove Museum deeply challenging. Unlike Hove Library, where the only obstacles and problems concern displacing foreign students making the local history room inaccessible and unuseable as they grab all seating for a day-long stay with unused laptops covering the tables and other library facilities ignored completely as they lounge over mobiles texting all day long….looking miserable.

    They should have timed use of those tables! And pay for it. Raise some money for the library!!! Don’t dumbly go – Oh, must close it….duh.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      Valerie – call it “toxic” if you like, but I say wait until we see what the plan actually is, before starting a protest campaign to stop anything happening.

      Please state something that I have said that is wrong.

      The current ‘Save Hove Library’ campaign from Christopher Hawtree and under-written by Phelim Mac Cafferty DOES imply that the current library – services and building – are going to be closed – and is, understandably, getting people up in arms about it.

      As Warren Morgan states (and repeated in the Brighton & Hove News) the museum would be expanded to include the library, and Peter James, who originally signed the petition has now said on Twitter that he wants to seek clarification of the plans after being contacted by Labour activists.

      Lets see what the proffered solution really is, and then provide input – rather than make assumptions about what it will be like?

      Perhaps it might well be better for everyone – moving to something designed for 21st century internet library services instead of something conceived for the Edwardian era.

  3. Howard Reply

    Here’s another idea. Flog the present museum and site for housing. Buy Medina House with some of the proceeds (ought to cover it with plenty to spare to keep the library going where it is). Use this as a combined museum and tourist office. In that spot, it would get far more used, and this option would also give a historic building a new lease of life.

    Be good to have some more information on why Hove Library is so costly to run, when compared with other facilities. Important to remember that a good proportion of the running costs won’t go away by having it closed and empty. And what possible commercial uses have been identified for it? Is it in danger of turning into a complete liability? Or has someone got their eyes on it already??

    Further questions are: how big an extension is proposed for the museum? What will this cost? What will be done in the meantime? And how much of the present open-shelf stock will be housed at the museum. (If this follows the usual pattern, it will be a very small proportion).

    Presumably the guff about seven day access can be translated as ‘we are replacing library services with a website’. Really though, I don’t blame Warren Morgan for all this, which is down to the ideological drive to shrink the state, coming from the Tories at Westminster. And all the while, remember, corporation tax is being REDUCED.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      Perhaps wait until you see the actual proposed solution and then make the comments?

      • Howard Reply

        I’m just suggesting a few lines of questioning that any proposed solutions ought to subjected to in order to test their robustness. Why would anyone be threatened by that?

        Unless someone is trying to pull a fast one here, surely what everyone wants is a cost-effective library system and the best use made of slender resources. I am just suggesting that there is more than one way to skin this particular cat.

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  5. tone__ Reply

    I’ve always considered George Street and the immediate surrounding area the centre of Hove Community.
    Moving the Library whiffs of a hidden agenda.
    Howard’s [October 16, 2015 at 2:43 pm] suggestion of moving the museum seems far more practical.
    Perhaps a better reshuffle, move the museum to the library, and the library to the Town Hall? Personally I would like it to remain where it is.

    I find it most odd that rather than looking to raise funds we’re always being presented with cuts.

    “The saving for the council of moving Hove Library to Hove Museum will be an estimated £350,000.” (This figure is over five years).
    [Quote taken from Proposal 5, http://consult.brighton-hove.gov.uk/portal/bhcc/libraries/change_to_service/library_services_consultation?surveyInProgress=true%5D

    The population of Brighton and Hove, according to Google, was 273400 in the year 2011.

    Some simple math later…
    If the yearly Council Tax were raised by 5 pence per person, that would cover the extra cost of keeping it open.
    I hate raising any tax unnecessarily, but 5p each year seems like the much better option, as opposed to losing yet more of our heritage.

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